After a difficult four-game stretch, a return home was just what the doctor ordered for the Montezuma-Cortez High School girls soccer team.
Playing rival Durango High School on March 22, the Panthers played their best game of the season, fighting to a 0-0 tie.
While offensive opportunities proved to be at a premium, quality defense was commonplace.
The Panthers’ defense, led by defender Emma Youngquist and goalie Elizabeth Loschert, kept the Durango in check.
“We really stayed tight and played as a unit,” said Youngquist. “We had a lot of talking going on, so that’s good.”
As the Panthers defense shined, the team’s offense nearly scored in the game’s 11th minute after a pass from Aubrey Lopez flew just beyond the outstretched foot of Kyla Tarr into the arms of the sliding Durango goalkeeper.
The Panthers nearly scored again late in the first half when a crossing pass from Raegan Littlefield narrowly missed the foot of Tarr, streaking down the left side.
Again pressing the action early in the second half, the Panthers were awarded two free kicks, which both sailed wide right off the foot of Aubrey Lopez.
For the rest of the half, both teams played to a stalemate, with few scoring opportunities.
Beginning to assert themselves in the overtime, Durango nearly scored multiple times as forward Stephanie Wilson began to take control.
Moments after firing two shots in on Loschert, Wilson nearly scored from 30 yards out when her powerful left-footed shot glanced off the cross bar.
For the rest of the remainder of overtime, the Panthers hung on, seemingly content to tie their rivals.
Seemingly pleased with their results, the visibly exhausted Panthers exited the field intent on maintaining their tough defense and improving their offense moving forward.
“The key is keeping our heads up when we’re dribbling,” said Tarr, discussing what it will take for the Panthers to improve their offense. “We have to keep our intensity up and stay aggressive.”
With their season record now at 0-3-1 the Panthers will take a brief break before returning to action at home against Telluride on March 28.